Town News Releases (Reposted from the Town of Palm Beach News)
Posted on: April 24, 2014
Flagler Memorial Bridge to Close from May 12 to November 1, 2014
Beginning at 6:00am, Monday, May 12, 2014, the Flagler Memorial (North) Bridge will be closed to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic for approximately six months, to allow PCL Construction to build the main foundations for the replacement bridge before reopening the existing bridge to traffic by November 1, 2014. During this closure, drivers will be detoured to the Royal Park Bridge to cross the Intracoastal Waterway.
To ensure life safety for all residents, employees, and visitors during this extended period, the Town has developed multiple plans in coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT), US Coast Guard, Palm Beach County, City of West Palm Beach, and bridge contractors to minimize the impact of the closure. These plans also are intended to optimize the traffic flow on and off the island during the morning and evening rush hour periods.
The primary focus of planning in preparation for the upcoming bridge closure has been life safety. The Town’s Fire-Rescue and Police Departments have been coordinating and training with partner agencies in the county to ensure the effective response to and treatment of all patients.
Alternate routes to area hospitals have been identified and Opticom systems (which allow Fire-Rescue to change upcoming traffic lights to green while in route) will be used to ensure the fastest travel times.
Three additional landing zones (LZs) have been identified in Palm Beach for Trauma Hawk helicopters, bringing our total to 6 LZs throughout the town. Trauma Hawk will be called more frequently to ensure patients dealing with potentially life threatening episodes receive the quickest possible care.
To minimize interruption of traffic flow on and off the island, especially during the peak rush hour periods on weekday mornings and evenings, the US Coast Guard has approved the following special bridge opening schedules for the Royal Park and Southern bridges, effective May 12, 2014:
Royal Park Bridge
Will open once per hour (at the ¼ hour), with no openings during morning peak (7:16am – 9:14am) and evening peak (4:16pm – 6:14pm)
Will open twice per hour (at the top and bottom of the hour), with no openings during morning peak (7:31am – 9:29am) and evening peak (4:01pm – 5:59pm)
To ensure optimal traffic flow on and off the island throughout the day, the following actions will be implemented:
• Town staff, as well as County staff, will actively monitor key intersections on and off the island and will manually control traffic lights to ensure proper flow of traffic. (At some locations, this will be by remote control. At others, traffic signals will be physically controlled at the intersection.)
• Palm Beach police officers will be stationed at key intersections on the island during the peak morning and evening rush hour periods, and West Palm Beach police officers will do the same in West Palm Beach.
• The designated route to the Royal Park Bridge will be via South County Road to Royal Palm Way. Preference will be given to east/west traffic on Royal Palm Way versus perpendicular roads such as Cocoanut and Hibiscus during the peak traffic periods, so drivers are strongly encouraged to use South County Road to access Royal Palm Way.
In addition to the actions identified above, the DOT is giving final consideration to changes at the intersection of Royal Park Bridge and Flagler Drive, which would prohibit all left turns at the intersection and close the pedestrian crosswalk. These changes will allow traffic lights to remain green for longer periods of time in the east/west directions. Other green lights in the east/west corridor in West Palm Beach will also be increased to promote longer periods of free flowing traffic between Palm Beach and I-95.
Other Actions to Reduce Traffic Congestion
The following actions will help reduce traffic congestion during the peak morning and evening rush hour periods:
• The Town will flex employee schedules to spread out rush hour impacts and also will encourage carpooling among Town employees.
• The Town’s Public Works crews (sanitation, trash, etc.) will begin routes at daybreak.
The Town is also encouraging businesses on the island to flex their employee work schedules (to spread out rush hour impacts) and to promote carpooling. In addition, the Town is strongly suggesting that residents try to avoid being on the roads during peak rush hour periods in the mornings and evenings, if possible.
Finally, Town staff will propose changing the permitted summer construction hours to minimize construction vehicles during peak traffic hours. The details of that recommendation are still being developed and will be presented at the May 13 Town Council meeting.
In the unlikely event of an evacuation for an approaching storm, the Flagler Bridge will not be available for movement off the island. Any Town decision to order an evacuation will be made in coordination with the Palm Beach County Emergency Management Division. Such a decision may be made earlier than in past years to ensure sufficient clearance times for vehicles leaving Palm Beach. Traffic patterns are subject to change as deemed necessary by the Police Department and may include the utilization of both sides of certain roads (temporary “one way” off the island) to assist in the movement of evacuating traffic.
The Town’s website (townofpalmbeach.com) has been updated to include specific information about the upcoming closure and our traffic management efforts, as well as general information about the Flagler Bridge project. Please check the website for updates and sign up for “Emergency Traffic Alerts” by clicking on the “Stay Informed” button on the home page and following the prompts to register your email and cell phone number to receive the latest information. Please note that emergency alerts will only be issued when there is an unexpected incident that impacts traffic and not for the normal daily fluctuations of congestion levels during the rush hour periods.
Rumor Control Hotline
The Town plans to activate its Rumor Control Hotline on May 5. The hotline will be staffed by VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service). The Hotline phone number is 561-227-7070 and will be active Monday – Friday only from 7:30am – 9:30am and 4:00pm – 6:30pm.
For a full copy of the official news release, click on the link below.
Download News Release